Carpaccio (South Florida)

Today the Roberts Family decided to get fit, choosing sensible foods and exercise in lieu of heavy and rich concoctions.

We drove down to Bal Harbor in Miami—a scenic trip that provided the following views:

The back of my mom’s head:

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Pretty water:

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Once we got there it was exercise, exercise, exercise! We immediately stepped into Gucci for heavy pocketbook lifting:

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After working up a heavy sweat, we made our way over to Carpaccio for a light lunch.

Here’s the awning:

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Here’s the scene:

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The service at Carpaccio was outstanding. It reminded me of that SNL skit where Kirstie Alley goes to that Italian restaurant with her husband, and the waiters are so attentive they start making out with her. Well, it didn’t go quite that far, but it was nice to be doted on.

We told our waiter we were on a Roberts Family health kick and the waiter nodded enthusiastically.

“Yes, yes!” he said. “A light lunch for you all!’

The first course, a light and airy Insalade Inglese with mozarella, smoked salmon, tomatoes and olive oil:

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Then on to our reasonable, and incredibly healthy main courses.

My dad had a lobster pasta:

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Mom had a pasta vongole (with clams and shrimp):

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And I had Harry’s Bar pasta, which was noodles with sundried tomatoes, arugala, and olive oil:

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The noodles were actually a little undercooked but a fit person isn’t a complainer, so I ate what was on my plate.

Here’s the three of us at the table:

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Finally, like any good dieters, we accepted our waiter’s offer of dessert. How else can you lose those calories?

Here’s our Atkins’ friendly, carb-free Tiramasu:

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Boy, it really does feel great to make a positive change in your life. I suggest you all try the Roberts Family diet and lose a few pounds. As a reward, tonight we’re going out for steak. Photos and commentary to follow!

Cafe Maxx (South Florida)

Yes, I have arrived safely and soundly in South Florida; my plane touching ground at 2 pm, and my parents arriving at the airport slightly late, but–in their defense–the plane landed early.

One brief note about Airtran. For the money you save, Airtran is worth the small discrepancies: the shopworn flight attendants, the buslike wear-and-tear of the seats. My problem is with the terminal. Granted, airports are airports–transitional spaces of little consequence. Yet, whereas Terminal A (the Delta terminal) has a benign, inoffensive quality, Terminal C (the Airtran terminal) is like the bathroom in a McDonalds. The grease in the air–from the bustling Popeye’s in the terminal’s center–takes on a physical presence. I felt my nostrils saturate with cholesterol and my skin begin to crisp like chicken. As if that weren’t enough, there were two Airtran hawkers pushing some sort of promotion to unsuspecting, uninterested passersby. Their annoying routine–“Excuse me, ma’am, but you know you want to save money on your next round trip ticket”–created a circuslike, fleamarket atmosphere in what should have been a quiet place to sit calmly reading my Bon Apetit and talking on my cell phone. Mr. Hartsfield shall be hearing from me shortly.

But, I digress. You’re not here for airport talk. You’re here for food.

Tonight my parents took me to Cafe Maxx which I incorrectly (in my previous post) declared to be a West Palm Beach establishment. It is, in fact, in Pompano (just North of Ft. Lauderdale).

One thing about eating with my parents is that often my body isn’t ready for it. If my calorie intake in Atlanta is a 4 on a scale from 1 to 10, dining with my parents pushes my body to its outer reaches: 9, 10, 11 and counting. I feel so full right now that the prospect of describing my dinner fills me with an existential dread.

Yet, I must press on for you, my vicarious eaters.

I was surprised, when we reached the restaurant, to see that it was across the street from a ramshackle shopping center with a Walgreen’s and a discount fashion store. The whole area had a very average, Florida-ish beaten down quality to it. No place, in other words, for a glamorous restaurant. I shot a picture of the awning before we went inside:

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The space was somewhat inviting, with a nice vase of flowers in the front. My dad would later liken the interior to that of a Ruby Tuesday’s but my mom smacked his arm and said: “Oh, Brad, shut up.”

Our waitress was sunny but intelligent; she guided us through the menu, and only once tried to upsell us. (She tried to push another bottle of wine after we finished our entrees). In terms of wine, my parents chose a bottle of ZD Chardonnay.

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The Chardonnay was nice, properly cool and woodier than some sweeter ones I’ve had. Admittedly, my wine knowledge is usually limited to “it was white” “it was red” so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

We started with an appetizer of duck ravioli which sounds scarier than it was. In fact, it was really wonderful: a really interesting blend of flavors—notably a peppery olive oil, sundried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

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Next, my mom and I split a lobster bisque:

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While my dad stared down his unusual caviar pie with toast tips:

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“What’s wrong Brad?” my mother beckoned.

“Nothing,” he said, scraping some caviar pie on to a toast tip.

“Here dad,” I said bravely, “I’ll trade with you.”

He agreed. The caviar pie was actually good. It was a layer of egg, a layer of onions, a layer of sour cream and a layer of caviar.

“Mmm,” I said to show how good deeds have good rewards.

My dad was too busy slurping soup.

Finally, our entrees arrived. I had the signature dish, an onion glazed snapper:

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My mother had lamb chops with a feta crust:

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And dad had a veal chop:

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We chomped away and soon we were done.

“I’m so full,” I moaned.

“Ah ah ah,” mom chided, “let’s not forget dessert.”

Dessert menus were brought. I ordered banana coconut crepes:

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I could barely touch them. They rolled me out of the restaurant, into the car, and carried me up to my desk where I write to you now. Only two more days of this and then my body will return to normal. I just hope my plane takes off.

Friday Morning’s Southern Breakfast Spectacular: The Silver Skillet

As some of you may already know, like Batman and Bruce Wayne, I–the Amateur Gourmet–have an alter-ego: Adam the Law Student. This dichotomy rounds out my character to such a degree that Warner Brothers has already purchased the rights to my life story, Tim Burton to direct.

One of the sadder aspects of my life as a law student is the mandate that I take certain “required” classes. One of these classes is a dry, dusty examination of agencies and partnerships called “Business Associations.” The fact that this class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12 pm renders it slightly better than tolerable. The fact that there’s also a Friday morning session that meets at 8:45 am–yes, 8:45 am–renders this class an act of sadism.

Have you ever been up at 8:45 am? I imagine not. Clearly, this ungodly hour is reserved for lunatics and politicians to shuffle back and forth before the rest of the world awakes. I eyed the neighboring cars suspiciously: who are these people? Why are they up so early? Regis isn’t even on yet!

Class today was moderately interesting. I actually like my teacher, he’s an old world business lawyer type: he wears a suit and tie every day to class and he wears his glasses on the bridge of his nose to create a wisened elder effect. Today’s topic was the fiduciary responsibilities of agents to their principals. I spent most of my time thinking about breakfast.

Which is why, when class was over, I hopped in my car, turned up the radio (well, a mix I made with “Raspberry Beret” featured prominently), and pedaled my way over to “The Silver Skillet”–an establishment voted, according to their sign out front, “Best Breakfast in Atlanta.”

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Full disclosure: I have been to the Silver Skillet before. Last time was with my roommate who, while she enjoyed it, found the political climate a bit disconcerting.

“Notice the big American flag on the wall,” she said.

“That doesn’t mean anything,” I said.

But at the cash register she pointed out the large streams of conservative political cartoons adorning the walls.

“How do you know they’re conservative?”

This was a fruitless question. The large majority of snippets address the endlessly merry topic of Bill Clinton and his sexual proclitivies. “I’m With Stupid” reads an image on Clinton’s shirt, with an arrow pointing down to his crotch.

“So what?” I sighed. “You can like the food and not like the politics.”

Today I decided to do just that. After perusing the menu for a few minutes,

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I decided on a safe choice: cheese omelet (I spell checked that and that’s how my computer spells it, though I feel there should be more ls and ts), grits and biscuits. The waitress had a lot of character. One part Flo from “Alice” and one part Granny from “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

“Arright,” she said, bringing the ticket to the kitchen.

While waiting for my food, I snapped a picture of the counter which, like the waitress, also had a lot of character:

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I then, to kill time, whipped out my copy of this week’s New Yorker. Reading The New Yorker at The Silver Skillet might be likened to reading The Communist Manifesto at Joe McCarthy’s dinner table: it raised many an eyebrow.

“You have a lot of eyebrows,” I told the man sitting next to me.

Finally, the food arrived.

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Let me be honest and tell you that the omelet / omellette / omelllllettttte wasn’t very good. The eggs had no flavor, it was dry and comparable to any other Diner omelet you’ve ever had except less tasty. The grits, on the other hand, were good. I have no frame of reference for grits. Culturally, I am to grits what Balkie from “Perfect Strangers” is to Lomain. “Cousins?” No, Balkie, no.

Alas, we come to the biscuits. Allow me to wax lyrical on the biscuits. These are the best biscuits I have ever had. They are perfect. Light, fluffy, buttery, flaky: these biscuits melt in your mouth and stay there in your dreams. These biscuits are what biscuits are all about. I am a former biscuit neanderthal, declaring The Flying Biscuit’s biscuits the best biscuits in Atlanta. (Say that ten times fast). Those, however, are biscuit novelties: weird saucerlike structures that taste good with apple butter and look good in dirty photographs. The Silver Skillet biscuits, on the other hand, are the real deal. Perfect, they are. So good, in fact, they even made the omelet taste good.

Breakfast digested, I rose to pay. Near the door are two trophy cases with photographs of the many celebrities who have dined at The Silver Skillet. John Lithgow (who filmed a TV movie there) and Katy Couric (who had her colonoscopy there) are just some of the many who have graced The Silver Skillet’s tables. What caught my eye, though, was an image that sums up The Silver Skillet better than I can in words. Suffice it to say, if you see a professional wrestler on a trophy case near the door of your next breakfast haunt, order the biscuits. They’re the best.

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